Decision illustrates shift in strategy by Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle division from creating a new kind of public transport to adapting commercial vehicles

When Google unveiled its brand new self-driving car prototype in May 2014 it looked like a shot at a new type of public transport system filled with pod-like autonomous cars. Now that utopian dream seems at an end. Waymo is killing off the specifically designed “Firefly” in favour of an adapted Chrysler van.

The Alphabet-owned self-driving company shifted focus when it was taken out of Google’s moonshot division, X. It moved away from building its own cars and towards creating the technology for others to build autonomous cars.

Taking the axe to the cute little Firefly bubble car is the next step in that change.

YooJung Ahn, lead industrial designer and Jaime Waydo, lead systems engineer for Waymo said in a blogpost: “Now that we’ve moved to our next phase — letting members of the public use our self-driving cars in their daily lives — we’re ready to retire our fleet of Fireflies and focus on integrating our latest technology into vehicles like our new self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan.”

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